Friday, January 31, 2014

Custom Leadership: Building Humanity Across Multi-Generational Divides

Case Study: How to achieve a high success rate in reaction, learning and behavior change.

One of the clients we are currently designing Custom Leadership education for is a large energy company that is in the midst of massive organizational changes. These changes are based on the shifts in energy usage, customer demands and a future that is filled with the potential for disruptive technologies that will dramatically change their current business model.

Though the business backdrop is changing quickly, people change at a much slower rate. One of the ways we have made a stronger connection on this is through multi-generational training. Providing a framework for why people from different generations see work in different ways has been very insightful and framed the process of leadership education in an approachable light.

As a traditional company, they have experienced many of the same trends as other American businesses. Baby Boomers are not retiring as planned, many need to work well into their 60’s as their homes are not worth what they thought they would be, their retirement accounts are not what they had hoped they would be and since everyone is living longer, more resources and money are needed to manage what might be an additional 30 years! With Gen X being the smallest recorded cohort, they do not have the quantity to fill the talent pipeline. Also, Gen Xers were the first to talk about work-life balance. They believe in family and are not likely to pick business time over family time.

As this organization invests in shifting their culture, one of the key strategies through leadership programs is injecting a large dose of “humanity” into the curriculum. Leadership development is about strategy, decision-making, innovation and of course driving for results. But, with a new generation and a 24/7 environment employees are starved for the positive human interaction. Building effective business relationships, communicating in a collaborative manor and engaging them to be a part of the process is key to long-term success.

The success rate for this custom leadership training has been high in reaction, learning and behavior change. Metrics were set up pre and post and the Level 1 reaction has been excellent. High marks for interesting materials, for interactive activities, high levels of dialogue and exchanges; they especially liked the robust case studies, which reflect real-life scenarios allowing great discussions and relevance to the everyday challenges.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Through the Eyes of Millennials: Why They See the Workplace So Differently

In a recent USA Today article, the feature story was why so many companies are sponsoring “Bring Your Parents To Work Day” – something that was not even on the horizon a generation back! As seen through the eyes of Millennials, this seems natural as the relationship between these Gen Yers and their mostly Baby Boomer parents is close, connected and as their trusted advisors, the interest is mutual. Companies such as LinkedIn, Google and Johnson & Johnson know the value this brings, often times even to the bottom line.  “As the world gets more diverse, this is a way to link other cultures where involving parents is a way to show them honor,” says Ellen Ernst Kossek, a management professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Millennial's know that they will have many jobs, at many different companies. In a recent study by Deloitte, of the 2,422 Millennnials surveyed, 70% of the respondents want to launch their own organization. These tech savvy and well-connected generation know that their tours of duty will help them continue to build their resumes and portfolios. Company loyalty is something they heard their grandparents speak about – it does not apply to their world.

To continue effective recruitment as well as retention, Millennials are motivated by engaged activities, learning new things and being able to expand and contribute in many ways. As organizations reframe their thinking, that these less experienced employees need to “pay their dues”, your company many be missing some significant opportunities to tap into their talents and ideas. The world they have grown up in is about change, agility and being receptive to how new models and processes support the business of tomorrow.

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to see through Millennial eyes is to ask those that work in your company. They would be delighted to share their insights, perspectives and thoughts!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What Is Custom Leadership?

6 new assumptions that hail the individual choice and challenge the one-size-fits all management style.

In our customized ringtone, pick your smart device color and have it our way world, the approach to leadership training is also changing. As organizations grapple with the demands of a multi-generational workforce, a seismic shift is taking place over a management grooming process that has been rather traditional in approach and execution.

Just as businesses are redefining themselves in a new normal, leadership techniques need to be fluent to adapt to technology, global competition and generational influences.

Successful Custom Leadership is being built upon new assumptions that take into account the multi-generational workforce. Here are 6 ways to make a better connection:

1 – Meet THEM where they are. Take into account their current leadership level and expand from that point. Connect with the multi-generations; multi-learning styles as well as varied levels of experience are critical to meeting participants where they reside.

2 – Design for even shorter attention spans. Leaders at all levels are multi-tasking and expecting information delivery in bits and bytes.  Just as they are very connected to their smart devices for updates and information, they may be less inclined to attend a workshop. That doesn’t mean the content isn’t valuable, it just isn’t being delivered in a manner that is well received.  Design engaging and meaningful content with added interesting activities is one way to hold attention.

3 РThis not your parents training program! Let leaders know upfront that this is not the old-fashioned, sit-down and listen-up clich̩ training programs where multitudes of talking heads drone on about the acceptable ways to lead with a hard-to-digest download of data.

4 – Leverage the cohort. There is so much knowledge, experience and in many cases, wisdom in a group of leaders, that using them as part of the learning experience is key to long-term success. Personal networking and connecting in a social media world is great, but taking full advantage of the in-person sharing proves to be extremely valuable.

5 – Engage and delight! Vary the pace and activity level, but also remember an added surprise gets desired attention. One of the ways to accomplish this is through a Virtual Team role-play. Create fictional direct reports that can be seen onscreen virtually or use live actors for a sense of realism in a workshop. This level of skill practice is tough, meaningful and very effective.

6 – Provide many avenues for follow-up and continued learning. The “one and done” is no longer valid in our ever-changing world. Business moves at the speed of light, and keeping up our part as a leader, is an ongoing challenge. Stay connected to cohort members, have online resource to continuously learn and read case studies to learn from others and avoid their mistakes.

Custom leadership into today’s world also needs to have a big dose of humanity. People are very hungry to connect. Employees, especially Millennials, want a strong and effective business relationship. This is part of the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me!) process that this young, talented generation expects on the job.

Monday, March 18, 2013

TRUST (#1 of 8) Gen Y Expectations of Leadership

1. Trust – At the core of effective relationships is trust. It’s a small word, but it has a huge impact on how you manage. Trust means confidence in and reliance on good qualities, especially fairness, truth, honor or ability. When employees trust you, they believe you will do the right thing, they believe you will not sacrifice them. They have confidence in your skills and judgment. In today’s environment, trust is not just a nice-to-have social virtue, but also a critical leadership competency. What have you shared with your employees that let them know you are trustworthy? Here are a few behaviors that support trust:

Be open and friendly to put people at ease

Show genuine interest in the needs and concerns of others.

When possible, leave others feeling better after you have interacted with them

Create an environment that makes work enjoyable

Respond appropriately to subtle or nonverbal cues from others

Treat people with respect; be aware of your words and tone of voice

Treat everyone fairly

When someone tells you something in confidence, it needs to stay in confidence

Respect relationship boundaries

Follow through on your commitments

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The End Result Blog Leadership for the New World of Work

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you did, but people never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou

As the fabric of generations shifts in the work place, and the “new normal” progresses, traditional leadership practices are being questioned and examined. As more Baby Boomers retire, as Gen X continue to look for work-life balance, and as Gen Y move into business settings, leadership expectations have changed.

Jack Zenger, one of the most respected thought leaders is asking the question: Should your company be investing more heavily in its’ Gen Y executives? – see article on Forbes website

Jack’s correct – new leadership perspectives are needed and organizations must begin the process of education, skill development and enlightenment much sooner and with a different focus than the standard command and control authoritative style. Leadership development has taken on a new patina as it responds to the changing demographics and expectations in the workplace. A different environment is needed that includes:



Consistent Communication





Building Effective Business Relationships

We’ll be exploring each of these categories in future blogs.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How To Motivate Gen Y Employees :
Communicate the Guidelines